Sue Wells – The New Canterbury Tales

April 25, 2011

Salt, sour, sweet #Anzac #Easter #chch #earthquake #eqnz

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 12:39 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s Anzac Day, it’s Easter Monday. There’s a fantail dancing in the garden. A bellbird is telling the rain. The house is silent, but for the fire and the clicking of my keys, Pepper’s occasional sigh as she waits so very patiently for me to take her out to play.

As it’s Anzac Day, and/or Easter Monday, I wonder if those restauranteurs who really don’t understand hospitality will try to impose a double surcharge on people who want to have a coffee and/or a chat?

Did I mention it’s raining? Did I mention it’s forecast to keep raining all this week? The good news is – it’s also the second week of the school holidays. The better news is – Pepper doesn’t care. Very soon, we’re going out for a walk. Which is just as well, because I need to get my big girl boots on today, take a concrete pill and harden up. I’m in a right mood with myself, and a bit of ice cold water is probably just what I need to get the party started again.

Today, I hate these earthquakes so much I can give them a face and a voice and I want to take to them with a big stick and beat them till they go away and leave us alone. They have claws and sharp teeth and a malevolent grin – but regrettably for them, the little stunt they’ve pulled today has made me more determined than ever that they are not going to win this battle for our city’s future. You picked the wrong woman to mess with, Gaia. Game on. Bring it. It just got very, very personal in here.

I’ve farewelled a very dear friend today, off to another part of the country to find work and I am not a happy camper about that.

The human toll isn’t solely those we lost on February 22 – we’re still losing people we love, and now it almost seems more unfair. I don’t blame anyone for leaving. If work dries up – you have to eat. You have to feed your family. You have to have your self respect. For some too it’s just one thing after another, and there needs to be a place for peace for a while. I understand all those things – I completely get that. But Gaia – enough is enough. It hurts when someone really special you can talk to without saying a word isn’t right there beside you anymore. This is just mean spirited, Gaia. Now you’re taking the mickey.

I know we’ll get through. Praise be for technology. There go the text bills again! And it is a small country, and it won’t be forever – as I say, time to get the big girl boots on and stop leaking into my hot cross buns. (They were lovely this morning – did them under the grill not on the bbq – lightly charred and I couldn’t find the butter but they yummy all the same.)

It’s been a very foodie few days. I’ve come to appreciate my kitchen all the more, and to remember things I didn’t know I’d learned when I did those few master classes at Savour a few years ago. We might have to bring a few of those back to next year’s Ellerslie Flower Show, I think. Another project I shall have to provoke into getting underway. There are one or two of those (or twelve or twenty) at the moment. I refuse to stop provoking a future, one little bright spot at a time, even though some days at the moment it feels like wading through – well, liquefaction really.

Towards that end, I had a long and good discussion yesterday with some very smart people, the kind we’re going to need to have here to build our brand new shining city. The conversation revolved around banks and finance and how a lack of commitment to Christchurch from that sector would have the potential to stifle development when we’ve never needed it more. We cannot let that happen. (To-do-list – on it.) What yesterday’s conversation has done for me is help me firm up a much clearer picture of what success (in my head anyway) looks like at the moment. And by at the moment – I mean NOW.

We need great jobs here – and we need them now, not just in six months, not just in two years. (That’s always been the plan – now it’s more important than ever.) We need high yielding high quality employment that will attract the best graduates in the world to come and be part of our community. We need lots of great trades based jobs too and they’re coming. We need innovative capital structures to help incentivise the type of development that would naturally occur within 50 years to be done unnaturally swiftly within the next 5 (and starting now). We need warm attractive well-built homes and business spaces and lots of them, and insurance so that people can occupy them with confidence.

Beyond all that, we need fun, and more fun, and then still more fun again. We need venues for dancing, and laughing, and singing, and playing – places where people can gather together, enjoy the arts, sport, and forget the rest of the day. We need hotels for our guests (and we need them to understand that it’s absolutely ok to come to Christchurch and New Zealand NOW – and you need to be spreading the world to all your networks about that).

And we need more restaurant spaces, for foodies real and would-be, places affordable enough to share the understanding that food (like love and like life) is salt, sour and sweet, and that only when you have all three is the dish one you’ll savour forever, one you’ll never forget.

If I were writing the recipe for this recreation of our city, I think the key ingredients would be smart investment capital (obviously), work (as discussed), nimble planning tools (Council & CERA should have no excuse for anything else) – but it’s still only going to work if you have the following.

Buy-in from people who want to live here and be a part of making things better again. Hope that there will be a better day ahead. Faith that we will be able to do it all together. Courage to stick it out (being an ostrich every now and again is perfectly acceptable, just so you know). Compassion for those among us who are struggling just to get through day by day, and understanding that some days will test each and every one of us. And love, lots of it, near and/or far, as and/or when.

We are of stern stuff, we the people of this lovely place. Some of us are descendants of those warriors, men and women, who rest overseas still in the service of their mother country. Some of us are descendants of the pilgrims who arrived on the first four ships or the seven wakas to walk along the trails already trod by the Waitaha. Some of us are descendants of those who came to work in trade and serve those who were already here, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not.

I am one very tiny part of this big village, this beautiful community.

It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have, or how you came to be here.

If you want to be here – then I will do my very best to help you make it home.



  1. I copy & send as email to those with enforced dialup who can’t get this. My wee contribution to spreading the message

    Comment by feyhag — April 25, 2011 @ 1:29 pm | Reply

  2. Tis also okay to dive into the dumpster of the soul from time to time.In fact I’ve gotten to savour the pure emotional Russian roulette of the days, will it be weepy one? multi task many incarnations one? We will prevail one? ( I have lots of those), Hell no I won’t go one? Or just sometimes…like last Saturday week ago, That’s it I’m out of here, fifth generation or not one.
    Answer..all are acceptable, all neccessary, the truly scarey people are the ones who report no emotional turbulence at all, those are the ones I don’t get at all.
    Greg Jackson

    Comment by Greg Jackson — April 25, 2011 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

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